Slow & Steady Wins the Race
Simple vs. Complex CarbsREAD MORE
Simple = Fast, Complex = Slow
Think of carbohydrates entering the gastrointestinal tract like pieces of wood going into a chipper. Simple carbs, much like narrow branches and leaves, are quickly and handily minced — they are no sooner in the mouth of the chipper than they are ground down and hashed. Disaccharides are broken down into monosaccharides in the small intestine. From there, simple sugars pass easily into the bloodstream and then to cell membranes to be burned up.
Complex or “long chain” carbs are bigger pieces, like thick branches and tree trunks that have to be fed slowly through the chipper to be broken down. Due to their bulkier, compound structure, complex carbs remain in the system for a longer time, providing slow-burning energy and longer durations of satiety, or feeling full. LESS
Signaling Hunger and SatietyREAD MORE
The resulting chain reaction culminates in a single signal of hunger to the hypothalamus. When the signal arrives, you get a clear message from your brain: Feed me.
Production of leptin and insulin increases with food in the system, letting the brain know that the body’s demand for energy is being met. The hypothalamus receives the message and creates the sensation of satiety. But it can take about 20 minutes for the brain to get the signal, which is why it’s important to eat slowly. LESS
ExplainingFiber — and Why You Need More of ItREAD MORE
It’s also important for the lowering of blood cholesterol, which reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, and the lowering of blood sugar which reduces the risk of diabetes. Fiber, a complex sugar, also plays an important role in sustaining satiety.
Also known as roughage or bulk, dietary fiber is plant-based and available in complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal, whole-grain cereals, and fruit.
Soluble / Insoluble
There are two classifications of fiber.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. This is the type of fiber that helps clean the digestive tract and adds bulk to waste. Found in wheat, vegetables, and whole grains, insoluble fibers help solidify bowel movements.
Soluble fiber does dissolve in water, and has a gel-like consistency once digested. Found in legumes (beans and peas), oat bran, barley, nuts, and seeds, soluble fibers help control levels of blood sugar. It’s also believed soluble fibers help lower levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
A Productive Member of Satiety
Fiber-rich foods aid in our dietary and digestive health from the moment they reach the mouth. Since they tend to have a lot of body and can even be tough in texture, these foods take a bit longer to chew— which gives the body time to acknowledge signals indicating that digestive processes should get ready to begin.
Complex carbs have saccharide structures that take longer to break down and digest, offering long, slow-burning energy without adding too many calories. While insoluble fiber helps move food down the digestive passageways, soluble fiber actually slows digestion, which helps maximize nutrient absorption.
High-fiber diets have also been associated with:
- Reducing heart disease
- Controlling hyperglycemia, and thereby lowering the risk of diabetes
- Controlling hypoglycemia
- Reducing diverticulitis
- Improving the regularity of bowel movements
- Reducing symptoms of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
- Relieving constipation
A Low-Fiber Diet — Why Would You?
Low-fiber diets are sometimes recommended for people with digestive conditions such as enteritis or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Consult a doctor before changing your diet, since a diet high in fiber may be prescribed to alleviate the same conditions. A reduction in fiber may also be prescribed following bowel surgery to limit the amount of undigested material passing through large intestine.
Health authorities are clear in their assertion that Americans do not get enough dietary fiber. The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine offers the following daily recommendations.
|Age 50 and younger||Age 51 and older|
|Men||38 grams||30 grams|
|Women||25 grams||21 grams|